Sunday, September 11, 2016


It is so hard to sit through three hours of church when you understand so little. There were two new American missionaries so I DID understand their introductions. For the most part, that is.  Elder Finch talked about how when life is hard for everyone, Jesus Chris helps something.  He has 12 siblings and is from Alaska? Nope. I guess he's from Utah.  Then the Koreans start talking and it gets so much harder. In my defense, Daegu is known for having a bit of a southern drawl. I'd like to blame all of my inadequacies on their drawl.  It was fun having Chris at church today. He learned a lot of new words. Baptism. Sunday School. Branch President. Things he didn't say as an 11 year old in Korea.  He also was able to tell the branch more about our family, including that we met on the Internet.   A member of the branch presidency asked if we'd like a Korean Book of Mormon.  I thought he was going to hand us a missionary copy and was super excited.  He proceeds to give us a nice triple combination!  I told Chris we should give it back and Chris simply said "you do NOT return gifts."  So kind of him!  The sisters are meeting me on Wednesday to give us a Korean lesson. I'm hoping to learn how to pray and bear my testimony before going home.  Or maybe just pray.  Did I tell you how much my Korean stinks?

After church we ate dinner with Chris' uncle. He opened up his restaurant just to make us dinner so I'm counting that as Sunday appropriate.  I am this close to installing a grill into my table when we return home. At his restaurant, you grill these thick slabs of pork until they are carmelizing, cut them into smaller pieces and then dip them in a delicious sauce. You can put it in a lettuce leaf or eat it plain. It is pretty amazing either way.  As it grills, you also throw some garlic, onions and duk (rice cakes) on the grill. The rice cakes come off tasting like toasted bread.  My favorite new food.  The garlic is yummy to add into the lettuce wraps with the meat.  The whole meal was amazing.  Dae bak.  대박! (Awesome!)  And the bonus was that since I got us lost on the way there, we were extra hungry and had burned off extra calories as we wandered around a neighborhood on the other side of the river.  Yep. More calories to eat!  Afterwards, us adults talked for a while. Ok, I mainly listened. I understood so much of what was being said until Yeju's dad would turn to me to tell me something specific. Why only then could he not use one single word that I knew?  The problem with adult conversations? I don't have an adult vocabulary. I want to say all of these things and...I can't.  They asked me if it is hard homeschooling. I wanted to tell them why I think it isn't any harder and what the benefits are.  Ugh.  I hate not being able to say what I want to say!

Next time your teenager complains about their homework or school load, ask me about Dong Bin. She is Chris' cousin and is a senior this year. We ran into her right by the subway last night at 10 pm.  (We almost didn't recognize her because she was wearing a mask!)  Guess where she was heading at 10 pm on a Saturday night? Yep. School. She had already gone to school and her after school academy. This was another class that she was off to.  On Saturday.  Today, I walked Elise over to their house to spend the night.  I asked where Dong Bin was. She was at school so I asked when she was coming home from school. 1 am.  On Sunday.  And then I told him that I'd pick up Elise at 7 but he said Dong Bin could bring her home on her way to school. At 7 am.  I obviously think Koreans are insane when it comes to this. And most Koreans would agree.  It is a vicious cycle as they have to study this much to keep up academically with the other people who study this much. And after college, they have to continue this to be competitive in their career.  They study like crazy and work crazy long hours.  I'm just amazed that their brains don't all explode from the pressure.   So next time you feel like your child has too much homework...


Jim said...

Be patient with yourself on learning Korean. You seem to be expecting a lot from yourself considering you have been there for less than a month. The difference between understanding a lot or understanding a little can sometimes be just a few words. You are probably making a lot more progress than you realize. Church has its very own specialized vocabulary which you are only exposed to one day a week in your current circumstances. In the process of learning a language, fluency becomes a moving target which is always beyond our grasp. I think this is because we usually judge our abilities in the foreign language with our native language abilities, not a fair comparison. We often focus on what we don't understand and fail to notice the increases in what we do understand. It sounds to me like you are making amazing progress for having been in Korea for such a very short time.
I am so very proud of your grit Sarah. What a great way to enrich the lives of your children and to teach them to do hard things all at the same time. Way to bee!

Sarah said...

I love you, dad! I do try to remind myself that in past visits with Halmoni, I couldn't understand anything she said. There has been improvement but I would love an instant fluency pill that I could take.